JEFFERSON CITY – Suspended Independence attorney and former Jackson County Executive Michael D. Sanders has been voluntarily disbarred following a March 5 Missouri Supreme Court order after his guilty plea last year to a wire fraud charge.
The state Supreme Court suspended Sanders after he filed a motion to voluntarily surrender his license to practice law in Missouri, according to the court's order issued Feb. 20. Sanders' motion included his conviction in federal court on a conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge, according to the order.
The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel also filed its own report and recommendation in the disciplinary proceedings against Sanders.
Sanders also was ordered to pay all costs in the matter.
Sanders was indefinitely suspended following a state Supreme Court order handed down in February of last year, about a month after his guilty plea was announced in a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Sanders and his former chief of staff, Calvin Williford of St. Joseph, both pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for Missouri's Western District to conspiracy to defraud political campaign funds, according to the Justice Department's announcement.
"Sanders and Williford defrauded political committees with which Sanders was affiliated by converting campaign contributions for their personal use," the announcement said. "Sanders and Williford misappropriated the money by directing the political committees to issue checks to certain individuals who performed little or no campaign-related work. Instead, the individuals cashed the checks and then returned a portion of the money to Sanders or Williford, who used the cash at times to pay for personal expenses."
Sanders was elected Jackson County Executive in January 2007, having earlier been elected Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney, according to information included in the announcement. Williford was Sanders' public affairs director during his time as county prosecuting attorney.
Sanders, Missouri Democratic Party chairman from 2011 until 2013, resigned as county executive in December 2015 after about nine years in that position.